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Ohlins forks on my DRZ

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Hey guys, I have been working on this project for the past couple months and posted here for information (which was helpful). Now that it's finished, I thought I would create a post to show the entire project.

This story begins around Christmas time when my brother Chris, an avid motocrosser who lives in central Michigan sent me a gift for Christmas – a set of Ohlins forks and custom made triple clamps for my DRZ 400. Imagine my excitement…Ohlins for xmas!. He picked them up for next to nothing at a swap meet at mid-Ohio a couple years ago. At that time he planned to fit them on his CRF-450, but never bothered as the CRF was set up pretty good so why mess with it... These forks originally came on a Cannondale motocross bike.

Here’s the DRZ in the ‘before’ shot. Those stock forks were plenaty capable but the bike was in need of something more modern up front.

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After a little web research, I managed to find the owners manual for these forks. We removed the fork caps, the springs and changed the fork oil using the recommended Ohlins-brand oil. I reset all dampening to the recommended base settings for starters. A complete rebuild will be a project for another day.

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Chris is an expert Tool & Die machinist. He fabricated these beefy triple clamps from billet aluminum using a mill. With the tool markings and dimensions – they look very, very trick. An additional spacer was needed (circled) to properly mount stock the steering stem, bearings, etc..

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With the triples mounted, we slid the forks into place, stood back and smiled. Note the xmas mess in my garage…

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We started piecing together the headlight mount and routing all the cables. We had to split the bracket but managed to use the rubber grommets. It was a tight fit.

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I made a quick visit to the local Honda shop to pick up the mounting hardware for the bars. I really like the rubber-mount system found on the CRF and consider even that a big improvement.

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At this point the upper front end was all in place.I picked up a set of slider covers and a motard front fender to complete the look. Now on to the brakes…

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I got lucky as stock Nissan rotor bolted right in place. The problem was that the DRZ came with a 250mm rotor and the Cannondale a 240mm. My goal was to keep the stock rotor so that I could put the dirt wheels back on with few hassles, though I thought about going to a 320mm motard setup. I ended up with a caliper relocation bracket (from Braking) that did the job.

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The wheel required a small spacer to center the rotor in the caliper. Even with this spacer the wheel was centered in the forks (or darn close to it).

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Here is the ‘after’ shot. I had just taken it for a quick spin around the neighborhood. The front end felt great – more firm and planted than before – not so vague and spongy. This bike is by no means a competitive motard racer, but it does make one fine street ‘tard. I am planning to run it at select track days this year with CMRA.

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This was a fun project. I owe a big thanks to Chris for the forks, the triples and for fabricating the spacers I needed. Also to my nephew Christopher for helping with the work, and for my buddies at AF1 Racing for helping me piece together the final bits. Also thanks to TT for the helpful info along the way.

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Nice, but does it work? Keep us informed about the bikes handling performance.:applause: :applause:

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awesome post, nice seeing custom fab work. those triples look sweet. Nice bike, have fun riding on the new forks and please keep posting cool stuff!

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cool........ always wanted some usd forks on my 01 E motard...... looks great

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I just finished doing a similar project, using a set of ex-Cannondale Ohlins I bought at mid-Ohio a couple of years ago. A bunch of these forks were being sold there by a liquidator who had a couple of 18 wheelers full of Cannondale stuff..... the ones I bought appeared to be brand new. I got a lower triple clamp with mine, but no stem and no upper clamp.

For others who might want to do a similar conversion, I wanted to mention that it's not necessary to have some custom made triple clamps. I used Honda triple clamps (CR250/CR125 clamps from 1997-2001.... and maybe other models/years too.... are the right diameter) but the stem is slightly longer, necessitating a spacer. Otherwise, it's pretty much a bolt on deal, as the DRZ bearings fit the Honda stem. A slightly longer axle spacer is needed on the left side, as you indicated, but otherwise the DRZ axle fits perfectly. I also fabricated something to attach to the DRZ frame to serve as a steering stop, and a bracket to attach the odometer and brake line upper guide to, as the Honda clamps were a bit different from the DRZ clamps in those areas.

It's possible that I could have used the Cannondale lower clamp, and simply pressed the DRZ stem into it.... but I'm not sure, as I didn't try that. If that were the case, then I would only have needed the Honda upper clamp, and there are lots of those, both OEM and aftermarket, out there to be had.

Geoff

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I wanted to mention that it's not necessary to have some custom made triple clamps

For sure no custom triples are required - the setup I used was basically for a CRF. The DRZ steering stem worked perfectly once we had the spacer made. My bro Chris made those triples with 18mm offset for his CRF (rather than CRF-stock 21mm) as that was the hot setup at the time. He ran them for a while then switched back.

I have been bombing around the roads of NW Austin and I can say there is a definite improvement in front end feel. No doubt - I find myself trusting the front more with the Ohlins. A bit stiffer but I like it with all that travel. I need Ohlins in the rear. It's hard to say how many tickets I'll end up with...

I am doing a track day in Bella Rose LA before the next CMRA round in March with the DRZ (to learn the track). Should be interesting, I will report back but I think it will be: "front end great, but wish for more top end...and better front brakes..."

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I was just going to mention the rear shock. the Ohlins in the rear is a marked improvement and much better feeling. I'm envious of the fork. Looks great.

BTW, I got my Ohlins shock from here a couple years ago for a very good price. Probably the best money I've spent on the bike:

http://www.huskyclub.com/modern.html

Not sure about what's in stock, but they might be able to help out.

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